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Big Brother most tragic stars, including Jade Goody

With the ITV reboot of Big Brother meaning the original reality series is back on the box 23 years after it first appeared on Channel 4, a look back at the most tragic stars to be linked to the UK series.

‘Who is she?’: Nikki Grahame, that’s who! (Credit: Channel 4)

Nikki Grahame

Nikki Grahame placed fifth in the 2006 series of Big Brother. But her incredulous, explosive, and outrageous reactions endeared her to viewers for years beyond her initial TV fame, when her demeanour could have alienated many of those watching at home.

Amid her unforgettable and uncompromising telly appearances, Nikki struggled with anorexia for much of her life.

She died from complications connected to her condition in April 2021, a week before she was due to enter a private facility in Devon for specialist treatment.

Jade Goody appearing on Big Brother
Jade Goody may be the ultimate Big Brother housemate (Credit: Cover Images)

Jade Goody

For no little reason Jade Goody is one of British TV’s most memorable players over the last 20 years. She came to prominence in BB3 in 2002. Jade herself rarely found her life out of the tabloids again. Patronised and slammed in newspapers Jade, however, came to be celebrated in glossy mags, and eventually became a media colossus.

Despite this, Jade’s links to Big Brother were unbreakable. She returned, transformed into a showbiz personality, on the celebrity version of BB in 2007. Perhaps she shouldn’t have returned to the site of her former glory, though. Jade’s CBB stay was stained by that series’ racism controversy involving Shilpa Shetty. Not only did the fallout see her perfume brand withdrawn from several stores, her publisher cancelled plans for a paperback version of her autobiography. And The Carphone Warehouse suspended its sponsorship of Celebrity Big Brother, later terminating the deal with Channel 4 altogether.

There was also Jade’s 2008 participation in Bigg Boss, the Indian version of Big Brother. It was during her stint she was informed she had cervical cancer. Within a few months Jade was terminally ill. She died, aged 27, in March 2009.

Caroline Flack hosting Big Brother's Big Mouth in 2008
Caroline Flack hosting Big Brother’s Big Mouth in 2008 (Credit: YouTube)

Caroline Flack

She wasn’t a contestant. And Caroline Flack achieved even greater fame in the years following her time as Big Brother’s Big Mouth host. However, Caroline’s stint as as one of the replacements in Russell Brand’s old role teed her up for her next big hit as an I’m A Celebrity presenter. Previously, Caroline had perhaps been best known on kids’ TV. But her transition to general programming put her on a course to stardom until her sad passing in February 2020.

Big Brother star Sophia Brown in 2009
Sophia appeared on Big Brother in 2009 (Credit: Photo by Shutterstock)

Sophia Brown

In 2009, Sophia Brown appeared on Big Brother 10. Just a few years later in 2012, Sophia sadly died at the age of just 30.

Her cause of death is unknown, but reports claim she had suffered from lupus. At the time, Big Brother narrator Marcus Bentley paid tribute to Sophia. He said: “Such very sad news about BB 10 housemate Sophia Brown – God bless Sophia.”

Davina McCall also paid tribute. She said on Twitter: “That’s really sad. My thoughts r with her family.”

Read more: ITV ‘reveals’ all 16 Big Brother contestants as baffled fans all make the same complaint

Big Brother 2023 begins on ITV tonight, Sunday October 8, at 9pm.

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Robert Leigh is a freelance entertainment and showbiz writer for Entertainment Daily with 20 years of experience working for nationals titles and magazines in the UK.

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